Dominant India coast to victory No 100

Dhonis men go 1-0 up after innings win over SL

Dominant India coast to victory No 100


Having capitulated meekly on Thursday when they lost 13 wickets, Sri Lanka staged a stirring rearguard action on the penultimate day of the second Test, yet couldn’t prevent India from registering their 100th Test victory, by the comprehensive margin of an innings and 144 runs.

With the indefatigable Thilan Samaraweera in the forefront, the visitors kept a strangely listless and seemingly distracted Indian outfit on the park for more than three hours at Green Park on Friday, eventually folding up for 269, 45 minutes before tea.

Sri Lanka should be kicking themselves for their inexplicable carelessness in the first innings, for even on the fourth day, the surface didn’t play any tricks. A combination of a slow but hardly spiteful track, diligent batting and indisciplined bowling meant runs came thick and fast and wickets didn’t tumble with the ease with which India might have expected them to.

All morning, the Indians managed just one truly wicket-taking delivery, a gem from Harbhajan Singh that, delivered from round the stumps, drifted away from Prasanna Jayawardene, then curled back in upon pitching to sneak through the gate and rattle timber. Otherwise, it was pretty much up-and-down stuff, negotiated with great ease not just by the accomplished Samaraweera but also by Ajantha Mendis during the course of a frustrating ninth-wicket stand of 73.

With nothing to lose – the result was a foregone conclusion and it was always a matter of when rather than if – Sri Lanka came out swinging as they resumed at 57 for four. Angelo Mathews picked off Zaheer Khan for three successive boundaries in the day’s second over before perishing in the same over, miscuing a pull that was well held by Rahul Dravid running in from gully and tumbling forward.

Buoyed by that strike, India ought to have gone in for the kill, but for some reason, the intensity slackened. Samaraweera and Jayawardene provided the first pocket of resistance, both putting the loose balls away – and there were quite a few of them – with panache.

S Sreesanth, named man of the match for his five-wicket burst of Thursday, did manage to reverse the ball both ways without appearing the same potent force of the first innings, Samawareera latching on to him with crisp on-drives and delicate dabs to vacant third man, while Zaheer was off the boil, making Lanka’s task a little easier.

Samaraweera is nothing if not a fighter. Always aware that he was engaged in a losing battle, he still didn’t throw his hand away. Following Harbhajan’s magical delivery to snip a 61-run stand with Jayawardene, Samaraweera retreated into his shell briefly as first Rangana Herath, then Muttiah Muralitharan set about destroying Harbhajan’s mood and figures.

When Muralitharan was dismissed attempting one hoick too many, lunch was 20 minutes away and a first-session mop-up job appeared on the cards. However, India had reckoned without the determination of Mendis, who complemented Samaraweera admirably with a show of character that would have embarrassed the profligate top-order batsmen.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni rang in the changes, turned to pace and spin, switched his bowlers around and set fields that alternated between the defensive and the run-denying, but Mendis didn’t rise to the bait.

With a large heart and a broad willow, he was an almost equal partner to Samaraweera, seldom resorting to the long handle and holding his end with enough assurance for his partner not to feel the pressing need to farm the bowling.
That hour and a half somewhat exposed India’s lack of penetrativeness, one blip in an otherwise flawless performance. Just as well, then, that Dhoni won the toss, India piled on the runs and, with generous help from the visitors, shot the Lankans out cheaply in the first innings.

Yuvraj Singh, finally, snapped the stand by forcing Mendis to defend down the wrong line, and Pragyan Ojha completed a satisfying, promising debut by forcing Chanaka Welegedara to spoon a return catch.
Samaraweera was left high and dry, even as India flew high. Over to Mumbai, now, for the final act beginning on Wednesday.

score board
INDIA (I Innings): 642 all out in 154 overs
SRI LANKA (I Innings): 229 all out in 84 overs
SRI LANKA (II Innings, O/n: 57/4):
Paranavitana lbw Sehwag    20
(53m, 36b, 4x4)
Dilshan c Dhoni b Sreesanth    11
(16m, 14b, 2x4)
Sangakkara b Harbhajan    11
(66m, 42b, 1x4)
M Jayawardene (run out)    10
(46m, 21b)
Samaraweera (not out)    78
(215m, 123b, 11x4)
Mathews c Dravid b Zaheer    15
(24m, 21b, 3x4)
P Jayawardene b Harbhajan    29
(62m, 45b, 5x4)
Herath lbw Harbhajan    13
(13m, 10b, 2x4)
Muralitharan b Ojha    29
(13m, 11b, 3x4, 2x6)
Mendis b Yuvraj    27
(88m, 75b, 3x4)
Welegedara c & b Ojha    4
(5m, 5b, 1x4)
Extras (B-7, LB-1, NB-14)    22
Total (all out, 65.3 overs)    269
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Dilshan), 2-37 (Paranavitana), 3-54 (M Jayawardene), 4-54 (Sangakkara), 5-79 (Mathews), 6-140 (P Jayawardene), 7-154 (Herath), 8-191 (Muralitharan), 9-264 (Mendis).
Bowling; Zaheer 11-0-63-1 (nb-13), Sreesanth 11-4-47-1 (nb-1), Harbhajan 22-2-98-3, Sehwag 3-0-4-1, Ojha 15.3-4-36-2, Tendulkar 1-0-6-0, Yuvraj 2-0-7-1.

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